Michael Allen asks if you'd pause to think about a prolific author who has turned her back on the publishing business:
How about that? We also have the model of Cory Doctorow (via Bob Baker) who gives away free e-book versions of his printed, trade sci-fi titles. "My problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity."
Suppose this person sits back, abjures all contact with, and all reading about, what the rest of the literary (or commercial) world is up to; forgets about, or rather doesn't even trouble to find out, who is flavour of the month this time around; ignores the bestseller list; ignores the small magazines, print or online, which consciously form an armed resistance to the various establishments. And instead of all that, just does the work, according to her own lights.
And suppose, further, that this person makes her work available in any one of the numerous ways which are now just a click away, my own current favourite being Lulu.com. Our retiring writer does not even bother to set up a Lulu storefront, let alone write press releases or send out review copies, or pay to get listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She just posts it up. And goes on posting it up, as and when she's finished the stuff. Year after year after year. Over a whole working lifetime.
In Civil War history, we have to fail better.